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Student Learning Success Guides!

MYTHS ABOUT LEARNING are commonly accepted beliefs that are not supported by educational research/evidence.  


Assume you are capable of learning, especially when it is difficult.

Monitor your learning to figure out what works best for you. Feeling in control of your own learning will help you stay motivated.

Don’t let urban/learning myths limit your choices. Academic success is the result of hard work and effective studying skills, not innate talent.

Attend all of your classes. Ask for help at the beginning of the semester if you're struggling. Your instructors want to help you.


In what areas can you improve by adopting a new mindset?

If you view learning as a chore, how can you make learning joyful again?

When has failure or the fear of failure ever caused you to give up on a goal too easily?

How can you effectively focus on more than one thing at a time? 

What more can you do to ensure learning is deep and long-lasting?

Myth #1: Learning happens quickly and easily

Truth: Learning takes time and effort in order to commit information to long-term memory.

Consequence: When we get confused or reach the limit of our existing ability, we might give up.

What works:

  • Elaborative rehearsal: creating connections between newly-learned and old information
  • Deep processing: understanding the key concepts and underlying meaning of content
  • Rehearsal: practicing retrieval of the right answer

Myth #2: Math/Art/Writing ability is an inborn, genetic ability

Truth: Becoming good at something is less about talent and more about hard work and preparation. In fact, struggle causes your brain to grow.

Consequence: Based on academic struggles in earlier education, we might avoid careers that could be a good match for us.

What works:

  • Change your mindset: “I’m learning!” not “I’m dumb.”
  • Embrace the struggle of learning to achieve higher intelligence!

“'Hard working’ is what gets the job done… The students who thrive are not necessarily the ones who come in with the perfect scores.” (Dr. Carol S. Dweck – Stanford)

Myth #3: Men have better problem-solving skills and women have better verbal abilities

Truth: Male and female brains are structurally very similar. Cognitive differences are influenced by societal and cultural expectations.

Consequence: People of all ages may use these myths to excuse lack of effort. Students may choose courses or careers based on flawed beliefs. Unconscious gender bias influences hiring and promotion decisions, which only reinforces the myths.

What works:

  • Focus on your genuine interests regardless of how adept you are when you start, or the supposed “gender” of the subject or career.
  • Work hard.
  • Find a mentor of the same sex or gender to guide you.

Myth #4: We learn best if information is presented in a way that caters to our preferred learning styles

Truth: There is no convincing evidence that this approach actually improves learning.

Consequence: Learning styles may be used to excuse a lack of motivation, learning strategies, or study skills.

What works:

  • The nature of the material should dictate how it is taught.
  • Ask for extra time or assistance if you need it.
  • Learn strategies to adapt your study methods to the content.

The learner needs to interpret the input of their senses and give this input a meaning. Only through endeavouring to find a meaning is understanding and learning achieved.


Even more myths!

Myth #5: People are either left-brained or right-brained.

Truth: We use both hemispheres. It’s a misconception that analytical types are more left-brained and creative types are more right-brained.

Myth #6: People use only ten percent of their brains.

Truth: Brain imaging has never shown any inactive areas in a properly functioning brain.

Myth #7: Young people are great multi-taskers.

Truth: Maybe, but multi-tasking has been proven to reduce productivity immensely even for young people.

Myth #8: Learning is for the young.

Truth: Our brains are plastic and malleable throughout life. They can grow, learn, and adapt at any age.

Myth #9: Learning happens only in the classroom.

Truth: When we’re kids, we respond to our world with wonder and curiosity. Sadly, many of us become convinced that learning is difficult, strict, or boring and lose our natural interest in figuring things out. Learning happens everywhere.